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NEWS
July 10, 2016 | By Craig LaBan, Restaurant Critic
The unofficial start of summer - Memorial Day - is not a secret date. And any restaurateur with common sense and a measure of luck will do all they can to open a new restaurant before the gates bust open at the end of May. After that, the beach crowds come fast and hungry, and with none of the patience for early errors they'd afford at a new restaurant back home. Yet, there are the slowpokes who tease us well into early July with luscious social-media pics of dishes "in the works" and promises of "opening soon" while the sight of active work crews stoke a more skeptical view.
NEWS
February 19, 2016 | By Craig LaBan, Restaurant Critic
See: Craig LaBan's eating and drinking guide to Fishtown and Kenzo Before it was the trend-setting gastropub Johnny Brenda's, the Fishtown bar at the corner of Frankford and Girard was owned by a former boxer of the same name who got off early from his overnight shift at the Jack Frost sugar refinery to open the bar in time for his coworkers and the 8 a.m. rush. The morning rush in Fishtown today is more likely to be for the city's best new bagels, boiling in a vat of salted beer, at Philly Style Bagels, which opened its tiny corner store in January off Palmer Park.
FOOD
January 15, 2016 | By Craig LaBan, RESTAURANT CRITIC
What a difference a decade makes. Ten years ago this week, Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby were still relatively unknown niche players in the wider Philadelphia dining scene when they moved Horizons Cafe, a vegan destination known for grilled seitan "wings" in a far-flung suburban strip mall, to an ambitious new location in Center City. The word vegan - and its animal-free promise of Vegenaise and copious fake meats - still struck fear in the hearts of many mainstream diners. When the two moved to their elegant new space at Vedge five years later and began focusing more on redefining pure vegetable cookery, the zeitgeist had begun to change.
FOOD
June 7, 2007
To say the Sidecar Bar & Grille is "on a roll" would just trivialize with a cheap pun what chef Rich Freedman and owner Adam Ritter are doing in their gastro-pub near Graduate Hospital in South Philly. Freedman, working in a tiny kitchen, turns out scratch charcuterie - Cajun sausage made of raw pork and pork liver, chorizo, Tasso ham, country pate, and hickory-and-alder-smoked knackwurst. Take the knackwurst, which comes with a salad and homemade sauerkraut. At $9.95, it's not the cheapest sandwich around.
FOOD
December 17, 2009
The ever-improving Sidecar Bar, a pioneering gastropub in Graduate Hospital, took another step forward this fall with the addition of chef Brian Lofink. Formerly co-chef at Matyson off Rittenhouse Square, Lofink hasn't upscaled Sidecar's inventive bar fare so much as tweaked it with better ingredients. His nachos - usually a dish I dread - were an irresistible example. The gooey jack cheese has been replaced with a genuine Mexican melter - asadero. The salsa, a green tomatillo zinger studded with pineapple, jalapeño, and cilantro, was inspired by Lofink's brief stint with Bobby Flay.
NEWS
June 4, 2012 | Craig LaBan
Just because "Alla Spina" means "from the tap" doesn't mean those taps only stream with beer. At Marc Vetri's new gastropub, there are also plans to start pouring kegged local wines on draft sometime soon. But while the official details are still being ironed out, beverage director Steve Wildy decided to make good use of his Cornelius homebrewer soda kegs to start pouring Negroni cocktails on draft, too. This classic Italian cocktail of Campari, sweet vermouth, and gin (Bluecoat in my house)
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